Review Summary: Another KISS album - no more, and no less.
Some bands know to quit while they are ahead; some bands do not. For every band with a short, yet distinguished lifespan and discography, there is another which has gone on for far too long, doing little more than tarnish whatever legacy they may have had. On the former bracket, one might include bands such as The Clash or Possessed. On the second, one would have to place the corpses formerly known as the Rolling Stones and the kings of the lucrative comeback, KISS.
In fact, it appears Gene Simmons does not know the meaning of a 'Farewell Tour'; anyone still looking for proof (even after the last six million false alarms) need look no further than Monster
, a bona-fide KISS album in 2012. Those who fell for Gene's spiel about the Sonic Boom
tour being the final-honest-to-God-last-ever-never-doing-another-one might be feeling foolish right about now; the rest - the legions of fans who had been eagerly anticipating the next obnoxiously overproduced slab of clunky, chunky hard rock with forced choruses and copious amounts of filler - may rejoice, for that is exactly what Monster
Effectively, even the most cursory overview of the new material makes it perfectly clear that Monster
is just another KISS album - no more and no less. All the elements are present: most of the good ideas still belong to Paul Stanley, with Gene Simmons exhibiting the anti-Midas touch on most of his; there are still several instances of risible lyrics, shoehorned choruses and atrocious bass playing; the whole thing still sounds, for the most part, cringingly insincere (one line unironically proclaims "I didn't care about the fame or the money"
); in short, it is a KISS album, with all that that entails.
Even as KISS albums go, however, it is not a particularly good
one. Musically, it is rather bi-polar: the first half veers away from the gushy pop-metal sound of the previous two releases and towards the rougher sound heard on Lick It Up
or 1990's Revenge
, but without the choruses that made the latter so interesting; the second half, on the other hand, does follow the sound present on Sonic Boom
and Psycho Circus
, coming out slightly better for it, if not by much.
In fact, it is only on the latter half of the album that the somewhat interesting tracks begin to appear. While still far from anything resembling real quality, this portion of the record does at least provide a few meaty hard rock riffs for listeners to sink their aural teeth into, as well as a few ideas which could have been good had it been any other group handling them. Eat Your Heart Out
, for example, is a great hard rock tune, with a good chorus and one of those riffs that put a smile on your face each time, but sadly marred by some trademark bass butchering from Simmons, who still
seems to be in a different wavelength than the rest of the band. Further on (on Outta This World
) Tommy Thayer - responsible for the best moment on Sonic Boom
- seeks to repeat the feat, only to see his efforts hindered by a clunker of a chorus and an absurdly extended coda. It may, therefore, only be construed as a miracle that Gene Simmons - who pens and sings Take Me Down Below
- not only does not butcher the song entirely, but is also responsible for the best chorus (and overall best song) on the album. It is these small glimpses of entertainment that keep Monster
from collapsing entirely, and this is definitely a case of being thankful for small mercies.
A couple of good songs do not a good album make, however, and aside from Eat Your Heart Out, Take Me Down Below
and Stanley's promising opener Hell Or Hallelujah
, there is nothing else to be excited about here. The remaining nine songs (ten on the iTunes-exclusive 'Special Edition') range between the eminently forgettable filler which a staple of KISS albums (Wall Of Sound, Back To The Stone Age
) and songs that should not have been allowed to see the light of day, even considering the band in question (Long Way Down, The Devil Is Me
). What is worse, even the best songs on here would not be worthy of featuring in one of the ten million Greatest Hits packages the band puts out every year - which, knowing the level of quality of the average KISS song, is even more worrisome. Weak though albums like Animalize
may have been (they were), they at least had one strong single apiece, all of which endured as minor hits for the group. This one does not even have that much, leaving it (and KISS) at a level of irrelevant anonymity not seen since 1989's Hot in The Shade
All told, while not as atrocious as many a KISS hater would have expected, Monster
is not particularly memorable, either. It does not aspire to greatness the way Destroyer
did, nor does it wallow in its own self-importance a la Music From: The Elder
. It aspires only to be what it is- a half-hearted excuse for another (potentially 'final') tour, put out by a band on autopilot, just looking to keep the cash flow steady. Rabid KISS Army fans will Lick It Up
, of course - but then again, these are the same people who wipe their rears with KISS toilet paper and ask to be buried in KISS coffins, while God Of Thunder
plays in the background. Anyone who does not paint their children's faces in Catman make-up for Halloween had better look elsewhere for their 2012 cheesy-hard-rock fix. The new The Darkness album is rumoured to be quite good...
Hell Or Hallelujah
Eat Your Heart Out
Take Me Down Below